(2019) A big blend of 55% Chenin with proportions of Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc and Viognier from Wellington, with Semillon, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Roussanne from Hemel-en-Aarde. Main components matured in French oak. Feels like plenty of nutty, Cox’s pippin English apple fruit, creamy and nutty oak too. After the fireworks of the Optenhorst Chenin it is more muted, or rather, less vivid, but the sweetness of the fruit, married with the nutty creaminess of the oak is appealing. Quite widely available.
(2019) Viña Ventisquero always does a good job with its wines, and this is no exception. There's enough gooseberry and elderflower to satisfy the SB fan, a tropical fruit-basket of aroma and flavour, and a good level of intensity here, being dry and well-balanced with nothing out of place, and it is very approachable with its tempered acidity and generous mouthfeel. The Merlot partner also delivers a solidly pleasing mouthful of red wine, and both can be recommended with confidence at their offer price of £5.50 in the Co-op, until 23rd April 2019. Watch the video for more information on both wines.
(2018) Silène is the legendary tutor of the Greek god Bacchus, and his likeness was found on an ancient clay seal found in one of the Paul Mas vineyards, a copy of which strikingly covers the entire front of this imposing bottle of Chardonnay from its Languedoc homeland, Limoux. The nutty, slightly marmalade-like and spicy richness of the nose immediately tells you this has been aged in quality oak barrels, then the palate is really very beautifully composed: crisp, fresh and taut orchard fruits and lemon are backed up by some peach, toast and Brazil nut buttery fatness, but the clean, zesty citrus finish gives great cut and thurst through the richness. A perfect and stylish partner to roast poultry.
(2018) Full-fruited and attractively buxom for a rosé, this pale-ish but more deeply-coloured pink has loads of sweet, ripe berries on nose and palate, a big squirt of lemon juice acidity to freshen, and is enjoyable in an unpretentious and straightforward way.
(2018) Like its Merlot partner, a handy 50cl bottle priced at £3.99. Garganega is the grape of Soave, and this comes from the Veneto region too. Pleasingly clean and fresh with a ripe pear succulence and decent acidity, it's a nicely balanced white with a bit of texture and a more or less dry, food-friendly finish. Watch the video for more information. Price for 50cl.
(2017) A typical blend of Syrah and Grenache with Carignan and Mourvèdre, this comes from a stony plateau and has a deep, rich colour. Warming, spicy and flowing with black fruit on the nose, there's a wisp of smoke and herbs which adds extra interest. It's a ripe, plummy and big-hearted wine, some cranberry red fruits joining the depth of black, firm and spicy tannins and a juicy cherry skin acidity add real structure and power. I have a hunch this would cellar rather well for five to eight years too.
(2017) Pinot Noir remains something of a holy grail for both wine lovers, and winemakers, the grape requiring specific growing conditions and a delicate hand from the winemaker to give of its best. While the top red wines of Burgundy represent the pinnacle of Pinot perfection, it's always nice to find a good example at a modest price that is widely available. From Marlborough, this wears cooler climate credentials with a birary, truffle and twig character on the nose, small, dry red berries like redcurrant and cherry, and a wisp of smoke. In the mouth it is delicate and light, those truffly characters matched by more of that pert cherry fruit, a line of tannin and more of that smokiness to balance nicely. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2017) KWV is one of the great old names of South African wines and spirits, but today is a very modern winery with a youthful winemaking team, access to great fruit, and some excellent wines. They are also part owned by a Black Empowerment business, so represent the modern South Africa too. This is exuberant, explosive stuff with fruity and bright aromas of stone fruits and red apple, before a palate overflowing with fruit - more of that nectarine juiciness - and a good bedrock of acidity to offset the ripe sweetness of the fruit. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2015) This wine was a 'Wine of the Week' over three years ago, when an earlier vintage scooped a top trophy at one of the major UK wine competitions. This 2013 also won 'silver', but my main reason for choosing it is a) that it is a lovely little wine, and b) that it's currently on offer with a handy £1 off. Made in the Languedoc from one of the local grape varieties, Mourvèdre, it is an unoaked wine that overflows with cherry and buoyant raspberry fruit. On the palate that creamy, fleshy fruit fills the mouth, developing a touch of chocolate and spice, but all the time crunchy and fresh with an easy, but balanced and savoury dry finish. Watch the video for my full review and for specific food matching suggestions. It's £6.49 on offer until 24th November 2015, normally £7.49.
(2015) A typical blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, this from giant Ogier is a medium ruby colour and offers dry, lightly leafy scents of redcurrant and cranberry, with a gentle floral lift. In the mouth the red fruits are creamy and nicely fresh - ripe enough, but with a bit of cut and earthy dryness against the soft tannins. Fairly lightweight (12.5% abv) and finishing on a touch of spice, it is solidly gluggable without setting the heather on fire.